On one level, mastering yoga asana means to achieve strength and flexibility and to be able to get in the many variations of the pose. On the second level, it means to stay conscious in an asana with constant awareness.

Yoga asana is one of the eight limbs of yoga, and it is essential to reach the highest level of practice to achieve the highest level of consciousness. In Yoga Sutras, there are seven steps which lead Yogis to the mastering of yoga asana.

1. Mastering Of The Ujjayi breathing – this means to connect the breath with the mind and to be aware of the proper movement of the ribcage and muscles involved in breathing. It allows us to become more present. Ujjayi sound is the mantra in yoga asana.

2. Breath Moves The Spine – the focus of this step is connecting the Ujjayi sound with the actions of the ribcage and the muscles responsible for breathing and feeling how this moves the spine.

3. Breath Moves The Body – after connecting mind, breath, and spine, we add the movement of the limbs. Breath prepares the body, so the movement is done without effort. We should be aware of this during the entire practice.

4. Sthira Sukham Asanam – the most important principle. It means to enter the pose with steadiness and ease. Only when we calm our body and senses, our attention can go inward towards our mind and spirit. When mentioning this principle in his Sutras, Maharishi Patanjali was referring to the pose in which we are meditating. But these days more and more Yogis practice this principle in other poses too. We have to focus on the area we are stretching and set the intention to relax that part. We try to stay grounded and steady, with controlled breath and thoughts.

5. Application Of Bandhas, Mudras, And Kriyas In The Practice Of Yoga Asana. With the practice of kriyas, we purify our body so that bandhas and mudras are more effective. Kriyas promote localized energy movements; we practice to reach a specific result. Bandhas contract specific muscles to intensify the energy in the particular area of the body. Mudras are gestures, mostly done with hands, which strengthen the energy movement already created by the posture.

6. Adding Mantra To The Practice – the goal is to connect specific mantras with chakras in different parts of the body, depending on the Asana. The vibration of the mantra reaches certain centers of energy in the body and transfers this energy through the nervous system to different organs.

7. Development Of Inner Awareness – We start to recognize our body as the expression of the Pure Consciousness and come closer to becoming one with God. As we move through the poses, we feel this consciousness moving within us to different parts of our body. When we lose the differences between mind, breath, and body and become whole, is when we truly mastered yoga. 

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